Embellishing the Details: The Sweet Spot

I think most of us have that comicbook we consider a “guilty pleasure.” I can already hear Vince’s ~sigh~. So to make him happy I’m going to work on changing my use of that phrase to “sweet spot.”

I think most of us have comicbook sweet spots. Like a pair of old jeans, there’s a title that’s nice and comfortable. I’m not talking about a series that you read out of necessity or even a character you collect out of habit, I’m talking about that ray of sunshine, what always transports you, puts a smile on your face.

My sweet spot ties into what I consider my Golden Age: the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. Titles such as World’s Finest and Marvel Team-Up and The New Teen Titans. It’s probably not a coincidence that these are team (or team-up) books. It’s not that you’re getting more bang for your buck, but it’s because the stories tend to be done-in-one tales. Even though The New Teen Titans had plot lines that ran through multiple issues over the course of months and years, it never felt bogged down to me. World’s Finest is one of my all-time favorite anthologies. After the main Batman and Superman story, the included serials would tend to continue into the next month, but again, this didn’t bother me. As for Marvel Team-Up, what’s not to love? Spider-Man sharing the spotlight with another hero tackling a problem together will always be a reason to make me smile.

What I find nice about my sweet spot is that I’m often not burdened by years of continuity. I can pick up any random issue and start reading. Even if I decide to read an issue I haven’t read before (as can be the case with World’s Finest), I dive in and enjoy. Part of that is due to familiarity of the characters. I’m not wondering who the heroes are and if Hellgrammite or Captain Nazi are the villains of the stories. The writing also helps. For example, Bob Haney and Gerry Conway, to name two, know how to work their way around the standalone and short-serial format.

My sweet spot is primarily title- or character-based. I can always be in the mood to read Spider-Man, but I’m not always in the mood to read certain Spider-Man stories. Marvel Team-Up scratches the itch giving me Spidey plus another hero or two (or more if he’s teaming up with the Fantastic Four or X-Men). And more often than not, everything is wrapped up in less than two-dozen pages.

My sweet spot isn’t tied to a creator. I’m a George Pérez fan, enjoying his Fantastic Four, Avengers, and Justice League of America work, but The New Teen Titans is my sweet spot. Also, again, because of my familiarity with the characters. In addition to that The New Teen Titans seems to secure that emotional attachment with me, based on my age and where I lived when buying the comicbook off the rack. Plus, the Titans were sidekicks. They were teenagers and a little older than I was at the time. There was something relatable about them, more so than any connection I had with the Avengers or the Justice League.

Basically, my sweet spot isn’t heavy. I’m not going to turn my brain off and escape from a stress-filled day by reading Blankets.

So what’s your sweet spot? What do you read that lets your mind wander, that helps you decompress?

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